Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Chicken in gochujang sauce with rice paper or What I did with Wandering Chopsticks' rice paper

A few months ago I won a prize in a draw and accordingly received two packets of banh trang (rice paper) from Wandering Chopsticks.
The first packet (tapioca rice paper) were gone within a week so I didn't have a chance to take any photos...
OK I admit that's a lie. Truth is, I haven't rolled rice paper for a wee while so my expertise has gone downhill. My practice rolls were either so fat that the fillings burst out half way or too thin that there is virtually no fillings at all. Besides, the hubby kept laughing at my attempt of making a decent roll to be photographed so I thought I'd rather wait until I make a photograph-able decent-ish roll.

This lunch time, whilst browsing for recipes, an idea came to my mind. I love Korean food and obviously Vietnamese food, why not combine the two and make a fusion.

So this is what I came up with.

Recipe for dakgalbi (chicken in gochujang sauce) was inspired by Sue from My Korean Kitchen's dakgalbi

Sue's recipe includes sesame leaves and rice cake, which can only be found in Korean shop so I came up with my own adapted version of dakgalbi

Gochujang - 2tbsp
Water - 2tbsp
Sugar - 1/2 tbsp
Chopped Garlic - 1 clove
Honey - 1tbsp
Soy sauce - 1tsp

Mix all ingredients together and leave aside

Ingredients (for 1)
Chicken breast - 1, sliced into thin strips
Chinese cooking wine - 1tbsp
Assorted veg - anything you fancy really, I use 1 courgette, 1 stick of celery, 1 carrot, all chopped into thin strips
Lettuce and mixed herbs (I use mint and coriander from the garden)

Marinate chicken in cooking wine, a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside for 15 minutes
Mix sauce with chicken.
Turn heat on medium high, pour 1tbsp olive oil into a pan, pour chicken and sauce in the pan, stir and put lid back on for 5 mins
Stir again after 5 minutes to make sure chicken pieces are not stuck to the bottom of the pan and put lid back on for another 5 mins.
Mix veg in the pan with a splash of water and stir fry until done (should take a couple more minutes max.)

Serve with hot rice or you can make it into cigar-shaped rolls like I do (a layer of lettuce and mixed herbs then chicken on top, roll it and dip in the sauce from the pan)

Maybe it's a case of 'grass is greener on the other side', I don't know, I still think W.C's banh trang taste much better than the ones I bought.
So thank you for your generosity ($11 postage doesn't go to waste I did promise you). Now that I can make a decent roll I shall attempt at some other rice paper dishes in the near future.
For now...good night and enjoy!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Noodle soup with fish balls

My MIL who spent her childhood in Singapore told me about her fondness for deep-fried fish balls so I went and bought some for her last weekend. Since my eyes are bigger than my stomach (gulp), I bought the biggest bag available that day. MIL seemed to enjoy it, the hubby wasn't so impressed (it tastes like deep-fried crab sticks, only a little more chewy, he complained)
Anyway I had so much fish balls that I need to use it up in as many ways as possible. This is something I made up and it actually turns out quite good so here it is.

Fish balls (4-5)
egg noodle (cooked as per instruction on packet)
kai lan (or pak choi) (a small bunch - chopped)
2 chopped spring onions to garnish
good stock

Fry fish balls for 5-10 minutes until golden
Cook egg noodle in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, take care not to let it go mushy
Boil stock, place kai lan (or pak choi) into the boiling pot and turn heat down
Add cooked fish balls into the pot.
Put noodle in last and heat it all up for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve.


P.S: the white bits on my photo are turnips. I love turnips in noodle soup so I just put turnips in the boiling stocks and let it cook before adding kai lan.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dau Hu Mam Tom (Vietnamese Fried Tofu with Shrimp Paste Dipping Sauce)

I've been a bit busy recently, what with work, family and the new puppy. This is one of the recipes that I meant to post for ages but never got round to. Incredibly simple! The shrimp paste sauce is a bit pungent so if you're not used to it I suggest a dipping of soy sauce and chilli sauce mixed together.
I first had this dish when visiting Hanoi in 1997. There it was served with fresh thin rice noodles and herbs. Since Vietnamese herbs are hard to come by (or expensive to buy) here, I serve it with steamed rice.
A block of tofu, cut into 2-inch cubes
rice flour
oil for frying (deep-frying is best but I shallowed fry mine with half an inch of oil in a pan)

Sauce: 1 lime, 1tsp sugar, 1tbsp shrimp paste (mam tom), 2 chopped your-ass-will-hate-you-for-it chillies (any small type chillies would do :)

Drain the tofu, I put the tofu in a colander with a heavy jar on top to drain off excess water.
Dip the pieces in rice flour to coat. I used to use all purpose flour but it seems like rice flour makes the tofu a bit crispier (Thanks Wandering Chopsticks
Deep-fry or fry til golden.

Sauce: squeeze the lime juice over shrimp paste, mix chopped chillies in and then sugar. Keep mixing until almost frothy, test taste and adjust. I think as long as you achieve a balance of sweet, sour, savoury and spicy then that's pretty it.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fried Rice with Hot Dog, Carrot and Kimchee

This is a cross between Fried rice with hot dogs and Fried rice with kimchee and spam
Both recipes are fromWandering Chopsticks

The hubby was very reluctant to eat hot dog with rice (It's just not right - he said). I, on the other hand, am not as fussy.

This dish is handy for Friday night when your fridge is likely to be empty (or when you're skint at the end of the month and you have to make do with what you have in the cupboard)


Cooked rice (enough for 2 - sorry I hardly ever measure rice)
1 carrot - diced
1 onion - chopped
kimchee (as much as you like really)
8 4 hot dogs (or 8 mini dogs)- chopped into bite-size pieces (Am I being greedy here???)
1 egg

Heat 1tbsp oil, throw diced carrot and onion and hot dog pieces into the wok. Fry for a few minutes.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Put the cooked rice in the wok and mix thoroughly for a few minutes, take care not to let it stick onto the bottom.
Make a well in the middle of the wok and crack an egg into it, then mix together with the rest of the ingredients in there for a few minutes.
Lastly, put kimchee in, mix together and serve hot.


Friday, 13 June 2008

pan fried lamb with cous cous

The hubby's creation.
Recipe will be posted later...

Friday, 30 May 2008

Canh cai soong and canh trung ca chua (Vietnamese watercress soup and Tomato and Eggdrop soup)

Canh cai soong (watercress soup with shitake mushroom and chopped bacon)

Canh trung ca chua (tomato and eggdrop soup)

I am not a big fan of canh (Vietnamese soup). I normally find it too watery to be poured over steamed rice. The hubby finds it too bland in general so I rarely make it. Admittedly though, when I'm too tired to cook I tend to crave for a bowl of steaming hot canh. Served on its own, it is a wonderfully light snack and a kind of pick-me-up that I need now and then.
To make a decent bowl of canh you need decent broth and decent broth, in my opinion, definitely needs some proper pork bones in it (Wandering Chopsticks has a good post on how to make broth for canh)
If you are lazy (like me), a simple broth can be made by frying some ginger and then adding ready made chicken/vegetable stock.

Below are the most basic canh you can conjure up in a matter of minutes.

Canh Cai Soong (Watercress Soup - my version)
My adopted granddad Muoi (my grandma's 10th brother) loved this soup when he was alive. He was a bachelor all his life so he spent quite a few years living with my family. He doted on me when I was little and obviously he was like a granddad to me. He's gone for quite a few years now but I still miss him dearly every time I make this soup.
Ingredients:(serves 1)
Watercress (100g)
Bacon (1 slice - cut into thin strips)
1 cup of chicken stock
3 chopped shiitake mushrooms

Fry bacon in a bit of oil until the meat has changed colour.
Pour hot stock and shiitake mushrooms in the pot
Let it boil for 5 minutes, taste and adjust if necessary.
Quickly blanch watercress in the boiling broth, turn the heat off

Canh trung ca chua (Tomato and eggdrop soup)
I make this soup fairly often as a student (since it costs next to nothing to make). It's guaranteed to be fool-proof :)

Ingredients (serves 1)
3 tomatoes, chopped into 8 chunks each
1 egg
chopped spring onion to garnish
chicken stock (1 and a half cup)

Fry tomatoes in a bit of oil (5 mins would do)
Pour hot stock into the pan and wait until it starts boiling
Turn the heat down 1 notch and crack the egg into the pan, stir it around, make sure you pierce the yolk as well because you don't want to end up eating a boiled egg yolk in your canh.
Garnish with a bit of spring onions and serve (take care when eating the tomatoes since they stay hot for quite a long time - FYI I burnt my tongue last time trying to eat it too fast D'oh)


Roasted Trout with Spring Onion Oil

Another wonderful recipe from Wandering Chopsticks
I would prefer to use catfish but unfortunately where I live one can only find catfish in China Town. So I substituted catfish with trout and it turned out just fine.
I didn't change anything else from W.C's recipe and it can be found here
The mo hanh (spring onion oil) makes this dish so worth-while. It feels sooo bad to see the chopped spring onions swimming in what seems like a sea of oil (I use nut oil) but boy, it tastes sooooo good.
I think I must have left the fish in the oven for a wee bit too long so I didn't have as much 'gravy' as W.C. It is still gorgeous though. I served it with some chilli sauce, sliced cucumber and rice.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

"Basic Vietnamese Marinade for Chicken or Pork"

Inspired by Wandering Chopsticks' own recipe

My ingredients: (pretty much the same except for ginger and five spice)

Fish sauce

Soy sauce

White wine vinegar


Salt and pepper

five spice

chopped ginger (about 1-2tsp)

My method:

Unlike W.C, I didn’t really wash the chicken pieces. Instead I rinsed them quickly with a bit of cooking wine before cooking.

I initially dumped into the pot 1tbsp fish sauce, 1tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp sugar, 1tsp chilli power, a pinch of salt and pepper, ½ inch chopped ginger and 1tsp five-spice powder.

Then I stirred all the ingredients together with the chicken and put the lid on for 10mins.

I also added 1tbsp of water to make it easier to stir. Then I put the lid back for another 10mins.

When the liquid started thickening, I test-tasted it and added another tbsp white wine vinegar, 1tsp of sugar (I like the sweet taste), ½ tbsp of soy sauce and around ¼ cup of water, mixed it all together and take the lid off.

Then I turned the heat down 1 notch and just wait until the meat is cooked and the sauce’s consistency is that of thick gravy.

I wasn’t so sure at first if the ginger would be too overpowering for this dish but it seemed to blend it splendidly with the rest of the ingredients.

The thick and well-flavoured sauce is indeed lovely to be spooned onto steamed rice. I particularly like this dish because it is so tasty and more importantly, so straight forward it is almost definitely fool-proof (which is ideal for the novice cook).

As you can see mine doesn't look as glossy as W.C's (see below) but it still tastes pretty good.

So there you go. Once again my thank-you goes to Wandering Chopsticks .

Enjoy :D

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Kimchi...at last

For the last year or so I have been desperately searching for a fool-proof kimchi making recipe. The first recipe I tried was from the first link that came up on Google search. There was no mention of the use of gochujang and also, it asked for kimchi sauce, which I honestly didn't really trust. Anyway, I tried and the result was horrendous, so bad that I nearly put the hubby off kimchi for life. He was so put off by my home-made kimchi that he has been buying kimchi for me from my favourite Korean store in town (the one that Park Ji Sung frequently visits :).
To cut the story short, last week I decided to try Wandering chopsticks' napa kimchi. I halved most of the ingredients since I was worried that it was going to be chucked away if it turns out to be another rotten batch (W.C it was my skills that I doubted, not your recipe). I did everything as instructed in the recipe and I swore to myself that I will give up making kimchi if it didn't work.
God must have felt sorry for the novice cook this time. The kimchi turns out to be more than beautiful. The juice is so yummy I can drink it straight. It is so nice that I have even managed to turn the hubby into a kimchi junkie (yipee).
Since I didn't change anything in the recipe, people who are interested can visit the link directly.
Special thanks to W.C :D

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Chocolate Cake

The hubby made this last week but I didn't have a chance to blog about it until now. The recipe is from a local organic food magazine.
Normally I am not too keen on things that are too chocolatey but this chocolate cake is exceptional. I particularly like the cocoa dusting on top. Simply gorgeous!
Serves 6
125g self-raising flour
125g unrefined soft brown sugar
25g cocoa
125g plain chocolate
125g butter
2 eggs

For the icing:
200g plain chocolate
half a pot of single cream (roughly 150ml)
12g butter
100g icing sugar
cocoa power for dusting

Heat the oven to 160C
Line a square cake tin (we actually use the bread tin)
Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa together in a bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter together with 100ml water in a pan and then beat this along with the egss into the dry mixture.
Pour this into the cake tin and bake for 1hr or until a knife/screwer comes out clean. It may crack a little on top but we'll cover it up with icing.

To make the icing, melt chocolate with cream and butter until smooth and then cool in the fridge to a spreadable consistency, beat in enough icing sugar to make the icing stiff.
Slice the cake into 2 or 3 layers horizontally and spread some icing between each layer. Ice the outside of the cake in a thick even layer and smooth the icing down.

Dust with cocoa before serving with some pouring cream.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Birthday cakes - pics only

The hubby's cake

The niece's cake:

Almost too good to be eaten...

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Dakdoritang - tried and tested

It is supposed to look like this:
Instead mine looks like this:
(steaming hot, aye?)

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Korean food. When I came across this incredibly-easy-to-follow recipe, thanks to a blogger called paintroller, I decided to make dakdoritang for my tea last night.

The only differences are:-

I replaced potatoes with sweet potatoes since I was never keen on white potatoes

I also added shiitake mushroom as I am a mushroom addict

There were no spring onions in the house so I had to make do without it.

I served it with rice and beansprout salad (someone please remind me of the Korean name) and spinach (another type of banchan which name has escaped me)

The end result, taste-wise, was quite yummy. Look-wise, it’s not as pretty as it should have looked. However, since I am a sole diner, I wasn’t too bothered about the aesthetic aspect of the dish.

So, without much further ado, please find the much praised recipe below. You can find the proper post (with step by step photo instructions) on paintroller blog.

Note to self: Chinese soy sauce (even the light soy sauce) is naturally more salty than the Korean soy sauce. Go easy on it.

Ingredients (for 4)

2 chickens
soy sauce
a lot of garlic
fresh ginger
black pepper
gochujang (red pepper paste)

1. Get two chickens at the market. Tell the chicken man that you're making dakdoritang and he'll cut it up approriately. Outside
Korea I recommend buying chicken thighs, bone in and skin on, because that's where the flavor is.

2. Put the chicken in a pot full of water and bring it almost to a boil. Some schmaltz will appear on the top of the water.

3. Discard the water.

4. Your chicken should now look like this.

5. Add some soy sauce.

6. More soy sauce.

7. Add even more soy sauce. I reckon she poured in about 1/2 of a cup of soy sauce. At this point it's the only liquid in the pot so the chicken soaks it up.

8. Add red pepper powder. You'll notice that in the picture my mother-in-law is in fact adding red pepper paste. That is because she was not happy with the quality of the two kinds of red pepper paste currently in the house. I suggest that if you are making this outside
Korea this wil cut down on expenses, in that you too can use red pepper paste twice instead of buying paste and powder. A heaping wooden spoonful will do. Incidentally, my mother-in-law has thrown her weight behind Haechandle brand gochujang (red pepper paste).

9. Add water. My mother-in-law said she added extra water because I like the sauce, but you can leave it up to taste, adding between 1/2 cup and a cup.

10. Add potatoes, cut roughly as for stew.

11. Add black pepper to taste.

11. Add sugar. I would guess about four tablespoons.

12. This much.

13. Stir and taste.

14. This is where you would normally add the red pepper paste. Again, Haechandle, and about a heaping wooden spoonful.

15. Chop and smash about 8 cloves of garlic.

16. Chop and smash one chunk of fresh peeled ginger.
Ginger is the Korean's go-to odor eliminator, and I don't know if dakdoritang usually contains it, but, in an interesting side note, my mother-in-law hates chicken. She never ever eats it, since she was a child and she witnessed a particularly gruesome chicken beheading.

17. Add the garlic and ginger. By now the stew should look like this.

18. Add onions, cut large like the potatoes.

19. Add green onions, again cut roughly into one inch pieces.

20. I reminded my mother-in-law at the last minute that I like carrots, so she added half a carrot to appease me.

20. Cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes and it's good to go."